“Thinking About Reading?” Determining What is Important When Reading

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SWBAT determine what is important for them to know about the topic they are reading about.

Big Idea

How can I determine what is important and what is not when I read nonfiction text?


10 minutes

 To get my students motivated about learning, I allow students to browse some different issues of children’s nonfiction articles like “Time for Kids”, “Scholastic Kids”, “National Geographic for Kids”, and “Newsweek for Kids”. With the use of an Inspired Classroom, I was able to save digital copies of these articles to the desktops at each of my students' work stations. Students were able to browse each copy together as a group. Most schools have prescriptions to these in the library or you could have parents pay for a year’s prescription at the beginning of the year.  We talked about the characteristics of the articles as I transitioned into the purpose of the lesson. I explain to students that today we’re going to read these articles and “think about reading” as we read them. I begin an anchor chart that reflects Determining Importance and how to think about reading. As we talk about thinking about reading, I pose this as a question on the anchor chart and answer it right on the chart as a reference for students. As we progress through the unit, we will add to the chart. After reviewing what we’ve placed on the chart, we move into the next section of today’s lesson, the mini-lesson.



15 minutes

To introduce students to determining importance, I decided to do a modeled reading where I showed students how to read with the goal of determining importance. Using an interactive article I found on “National Geographic Explorer”:


This link allows you to project articles for students on an interactive board or projector. During this modeled reading exercise, I will also show students through a think aloud how to be mindful of the thoughts that occur while reading, to think about any information that relates back to the title, and finally any information that supports the title. I began by restating the title as a question. I solicit the help of the students. The cool thing about these articles is they are interactive. If you have an interactive smart board, you can manipulate the article through highlights, etc. I read one of the sections of the article; I read aloud for students and say out loud the thoughts that “pop” into my head as I read. As I read, I highlight sections that may help me answer my “title” question and make notes in the margin of the article that reflect my thoughts. After I finish reading the article, we talk about my thoughts and I ask students if they had any thoughts. I then model for students how to use my thoughts and information in the text that can help me answer my “title” question. Next I ask students to summarize what I did during my think aloud. I make sure I do this, so students know what they should be doing while they are reading. This leads us to our guided reading section of the lesson, where students will practice thinking about their reading.

Guided Reading

50 minutes

Guided Reading: Each day during our reading instruction, we work in small guided reading groups where students meet with me to learn and practice active reading strategies with a text that is on their instructional reading level. While I meet with my guided reading groups, the other students are working in literacy centers on activities that reinforce this unit’s focus strategies and standards. This section of our reading today is divided into the follow parts. Each part is done so students have a clear focus on the strategy they are learning and practicing.

  • Before Reading- Before we read our leveled text, I spend this time activating prior knowledge and looking at domain specific words that are important for students determining importance. We look at the vocabulary and talk about what the words mean. We also review how to use context clues to determine the meaning of words we don’t know while we’re reading.
  • During Reading- At this time, students actually read the text and have an opportunity to practice thinking about their reading as I did during the modeled reading lesson. In addition to writing down their thoughts, I ask students to use a response sheet I have created for them to organize their thoughts after they read. This will be students first read of the text. Before they begin, I have them turn the title of the article into a question and use this as their purpose for reading. I would like for them to guide their thinking in trying to answer the question they've created. Just like the modeled reading, students will just read a section of the text. At the top of the response sheet, students write their “title” question and begin to read. Students read the article to themselves and jot down their thoughts. As they read, I listen to individual students, scaffolding where needed and probing questions, which help them utilize the strategy more effectively.
  • After Reading- Now, I have students turn and talk to their neighbor about their thoughts on the article. After students briefly talk about their thoughts, I ask them to answer their “title” question in the appropriate section of the response sheet. Students turn and talk to their neighbor about the answer to their questions. I ask students if any of them felt they should change or adjust their thoughts and answer to the question based on their talk with their neighbor. This brings our guided lesson to a close.

Assessment: To help determine how to approach the next guided section with each group, I look at students articles and the thoughts they recorded as well as how accurate they were in answering their questions. 

Wrap Up

10 minutes

 We come back together as a whole group, and we summarize how to “think about reading” and why it is important.